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José María de Jesús Belaunzarán y Ureña: On the Decline of the Church

José María de Jesús Belaunzarán y Ureña. Breve discurso sobre los sucesos presentes que en obsequio de la verdadera religión, hace el mínimo de los obispos de la iglesia Mexicana. México: Impr. de Luís Abadiano y Valdés, 1847. (Pamphlet [2], 12 p., [2], 21cm x 14cm)

Bridwell Library’s collection of printed Mexican religious ephemera possesses 13 documents written by José María de Jesús Belaunzarán y Ureña, Bishop of Linares (Monterey) from 1831 to 1839 and one of the most influential clergymen of post-Independence Mexico. He was described as “one of the two great figures (along with Portugal of Michocán) who led the clergy against the ideas of the early ‘reformers.’” The selections below highlight the bishop’s unremitting defense of the freedom of the Catholic Church.

In this scathing criticism of Mexican society and politics, Belaunzarán laments Mexico’s current position in the War of North American Invasion. He attributes the situation to the judgment that Mexico is full of sinfulness, comparable according to Belaunzarán to another Sodom or Gomorra. He states that Mexicans would undoubtedly win the war with North America if they possessed the Spirit of God and truly believed and professed His Word, but that Mexicans are moving further and further away from the true faith by allowing freedom for all religions in Mexico. Mexicans, he claims, do not have the strength of God behind them because of the government's policies of religious tolerance and usurpation and occupation of ecclesiastic property, which declares to be blasphemous. Finally, Belaunzarán warns that all will be accountable for their actions when they are judged in the next life, saying, “Nothing, therefore, will remain unpunished in that His terrible Tribunal, and tremendous judgment. There we all go and must go, and in it will appear all that is now hidden.”